RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Rams football team finished off their 2019 season with a Senior Night home game against the No. 8 ranked Ramapo Raiders on Friday Nov. 1. While they came up on the short end of the 38-22 final score, the Rams didn’t go down without a fight.
“They have a great program at Ramapo and they do everything well,” said Captain Alex Perniciaro. “It didn’t go our way at the end of the day, but all I ever ask for is effort, and today I saw guys picking each other up, hitting, and fighting every second of the game.”
Ramapo showed their speed and skill right from the start, taking their first two possessions down the field for touchdowns while collecting big plays along the way. In between those scores, their defense sandwiched a three and out stop of Randolph, and things were not looking good for the Rams.
Randolph desperately needed a spark, and they got one from their most dynamic player on the very next series. QB Matt Kleiven dropped back to pass and found Jimmy Pepe open across the middle. The Junior RB / WR made a nice shoestring catch, before slashing towards the left sideline and outrunning everyone to the end zone for a 75-ard TD.
But, the Raiders kept running and gunning with their up-tempo no huddle offense, and they quickly scored again, this time using a 60-yard run to get their points.
Ramapo certainly took a few licks in the process however, as the Rams had no intentions of backing down. Pat Schimmenger made sure to remind the Raiders of that fact when he lit up the Raiders QB with a monster hit right in front of the Rams bench.
Tom Colombaris took a turn sending the message as well when he planted his helmet right in the chest of the Raiders kick return man before putting him on his back with the help of a few teammates.
Just before half, Ramapo tacked on another score after a 50-yard screen pass moved them inside the Rams 10-yard line. Two plays later they had 28-7 lead entering halftime.
Out of the halftime locker room, Randolph punched the Raiders right back with a 5 play 70 yard scoring drive. Justin Townsend kicked it off with a bruising 45-yard run in which he littered the field with Ramapo defenders. A few plays later, Kleiven hit Colombaris with a 20-yard TD up the seam on the left side, to cut the lead to 28-14.
After giving up a field goal, the Rams held the Raiders in check for a few possessions, and gained momentum on offense, twice moving into scoring territory. One drive they gave the ball back on downs, and on another drive an interception in the end zone ended a potential scoring chance.
After Ramapo scored again in the middle of the fourth quarter to up their lead to 38-14, the Rams threw the final few punches in the fight with a scoring drive of their own.
After a 4th and 12 completion from Kleiven to Townsend for 15-yards gave Randolph a first down, the Rams QB collected his third TD pass of the night. While scrambling to avoid the rush, Kleiven tossed one up into the corner of the end zone for his tallest receiver, Justin Lawler, who wrestled the ball away from a defender for a 12 yard TD. Kleiven then hit Lawler on a quick slant for the 2-point conversion and the final points in the game.
“The game tonight definitely gives me confidence going into the playoffs, said Kleiven, who had a strong game despite the loss, going 13-17 for 245 yards. “They are a top team, but we hung in there and competed and didn’t give up during the game. It shows me that we can put up points against anybody.”
Defensive back Matt Kratchovil collected a nice interception in the second half, returning it 30 yards to help keep the Rams in striking distance in the game. Senior WR/DB Dylan Glincman also had a big day in the return game for the Rams, running circles around Ramapo’s special teams as he brought three kicks back for gains of over 40 yards each. Lawler also had a productive day on offense, hauling in 4 passes for 86 yards in the second half.
“We had a great week of practice this past week, and we need to keep that going this coming week,” said Kevin Jung, also a team captain. “The effort from every single person was there tonight, everyone put in 100%. The result didn’t go our way, but we need to keep competing next week.”
The Rams now await their seeding and playoff opponent, which will be announced Nov. 3. For now, it appears they will be on the road and seeded in the 5-7 range.
“We always compete, no matter what week of the season it is,” said coach Will Nahan. “It doesn’t matter that the playoffs are next week or who we are playing, we play to win and our goal was to beat that team tonight. The results didn’t go our way, but we competed until the final seconds. I would hate to be the team who is hosting us next week.”